Article Text

Download PDFPDF
P08 Conducting a large scale transdisciplinary interview study: lessons learned from the TRUUD project
  1. Anna Le Gouais1,
  2. Geoff Bates2
  1. 1Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath, Bath, UK


Background It is increasingly recognised that knowledge and expertise from multiple disciplines are needed to tackle complex public health challenges. Investigating these issues requires transdisciplinary collaboration where researchers from different academic disciplines actively work together, to develop new insights and innovative solutions.

While there is a plethora of guidance about conducting individual or small group qualitative interview studies, there is limited advice about conducting these studies in large scale transdisciplinary projects. Collaborating in qualitative research presents many challenges for researchers from different academic disciplines and epistemologies with differing approaches to qualitative methods. To address this knowledge gap we critically reflect on our experience and lessons learned from a large scale transdisciplinary interview study from the TRUUD project (‘Tackling the Root Causes Upstream of Unhealthy Urban Development’). This aimed to understand how health is included in the complex system of urban development and provide a foundation to develop interventions to influence healthier place-making.

Methods Our transdisciplinary team (located across four universities) had varied disciplinary backgrounds: urban planning, public health, real estate, management, public policy, public administration, law and public involvement. In seven disciplinary sub-teams we interviewed the multisectoral stakeholder groups influential in England’s urban development system. Sub-teams each developed interview guides based around agreed research questions and recruited using purposive expert sampling. 123 online interviews were conducted. Transcripts were coded using a shared coding framework in NVivo12 with inductive codes developed collaboratively. Sub-teams firstly summarised findings from their own data (grouped by coding categories) followed by development of transdisciplinary summaries. The data were subsequently further interpreted from different disciplinary perspectives.

Reflective team processes involved extensive discussions, consideration of differing epistemological assumptions, developing and refining common working protocols, and charting coding approaches to review differing coding styles.

Results We identify recommendations to support successful delivery of transdisciplinary interview studies grouped into three themes: balancing autonomy and collaboration; creating space for debate, sense-checking and negotiation in positive team environments; developing and communicating procedures and language for collaborative work.

Discussion Although these insights come from a single project this example of a large team transdisciplinary interview study is valuable to guide similar projects that seek to tackle complex public health issues. Our critical reflections can encourage greater use of transdisciplinary approaches in qualitative research and avoid unnecessary ‘reinventing the wheel’ when such studies are conducted. These insights will also support teams to manage the practical complexities of conducting qualitative research in large and multi-site projects.

  • Transdisciplinary
  • interview
  • collaboration

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.